It’s Raining Outside

I wasn’t planning to write a blog post today, but something on twitter set me thinking.

The tweet was “It’s raining outside………” I don’t need to continue on with the tweet because the rest of it isn’t important to this post.

My first instinct was to tweet back something smart like— “Where else would it rain?” or “Good thing it’s not raining inside”— but I wasn’t sure if my humour would be well received since I don’t know this particular tweeter very well. (See previous post!) Not everyone appreciates my sense of humour as difficult as that is for me to believe.

But this got me thinking about those times, in our writing, when we state the obvious as this particular tweeter did. I sometimes catch myself doing this even in my own writing. Stating that someone picked an object up in their hands for instance, such as “He picked the Frisbee up in his hands,” should be pretty darn obvious unless the He in question is a dog named Benny who likes to play Frisbee. Then by all means “He picked the Frisbee up in his mouth” would sound appropriate (unless Benny’s one smart dog who picked the Frisbee up with his paws. But let’s not go there.)

“She kicked the can with her foot” is another obvious statement. I’ve kicked a thing or two in my day, and I gotta say I always used my foot. Even if I were to say I kicked it with my shoe you’d have to figure on my foot being in that shoe. Wouldn’t you? If anyone out there has kicked at something and their foot wasn’t in someway involved, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

On another note we’d never, ever say, “He ate an apple with his mouth,” or ”She listened to the music with her ears.” Please tell me you’ve never written, said, or was even tempted to say, “He ate an apple with his mouth.”

Still, I’ve got to admit it intrigues me to think that we accept some obvious statements without giving them a second thought while others sound so totally ridiculous to our ears that we wouldn’t consider uttering them even once.

Now I must go announce to the first person I see that it’s raining outside just to see what their reaction will be.  Wish me luck!

Update:

Me: “ It’s raining outside.”

First person I encountered: “Yes it is.”

My point exactly!!

Communication—Do You Get My Meaning?

Ever find yourself wondering what we’d do without the Internet in our lives? We only have to wait for a power outage to find out. The moment we cannot boot up the computer we become bored and restless. Okay, even panicky. Granted, that doesn’t mean we spend all of our waking moments online. Some of us, myself included, just hop online for a few moments to see that’s going on in cyberspace. I often joke that if I didn’t see it on Facebook it didn’t happen. But seriously, for most of us, there is life beyond cyberspace.

We’ve entered into a whole new realm of communicating and there is no going back. We correspond through email, twitter, and our blogs. We get to *know* many people whom we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet– –people from other countries, other provinces, other states—-without leaving the comforts of our own homes. How truly amazing!

However, it makes me wonder if we are not becoming a society that it totally dependent upon electronic communications.

This post reminds of that little joke that went something like this.

Q: Whatever happened to the art of conversation?

A: I don’t know. No one ever talks about it anymore.

But we are *talking* you might argue, we’re just not doing it face to face.

You have to admit in some ways the Internet has made it much simpler for us to express ourselves, and self-expression is very important. But, have you ever found yourself sharing some bit of information online only to realize that it’s not necessarily something you would have dared to share with your friends and family in the *real* world? Perhaps you’ve read a friend’s FB status and cringed because it just felt like  “too much information.”

How brave it can makes us feel when we simply have to hit a button and send our words on their way. There’s no one standing there to make us accountable. We don’t have to see the hurt feeling we’ve caused. Nor do we get to experience the joy and delight our words might have brought.

But communication is more than just words.

Communication is not just a group of words all strung together. It is as much a part of speaking the words as it is listening. We pick up on the tones and rhythms in each other’s voices as we speak. We watch for that gleam in eye or look of amusement, anger or even confusion. By watching and listening we pick up on each other’s emotions on a non-verbal level, and it puts us in a better place of understanding what is really being said.

I sometimes find it more challenging to communicate online. I sometimes wonder if the meaning behind my words is fully grasped. Who out there has sent a message, written a blog post, or tweeted something, then wondered if their words might have been misunderstood because you couldn’t communicate the tone in which the remark was intended? I know I certainly have. And how many of us have been on the other end of that, wondering just what was meant by a certain comment. Was it truly said in jest? Were their snotty undertones? Was the entire meaning lost along the way?

A friend once admitted to me that she’s made snotty comments, and then hid behind that little smiley face at then end. Be honest, sometimes it is tempting. Isn’t it?  :)

Although I am grateful for this wonderful means of communicating online, and certainly wouldn’t want to abandon it, I still feel a need to communicate face to face, or by telephone, from time to time. I need to hear the laughter in someone’s voice and be able to tell at a glance just what their day’s been like.I need to see their face light up.. But that’s just me.

So how about you, do you prefer communicating online rather than in person? And does being online give you the courage to fully express yourself in ways you never dreamed you would?

Looking Up Through The Trees.

I love lying on the ground looking up through the trees, knowing that there is a whole world out there.

This is something I often did as a child back in the days when I had the time to spend in the process of just being.

It is like that sometimes when I’m writing a story. It feels as though I have only to show up on the page and just be. The words flow freely, the story unfolds and I’m in the middle of it all taking in the view.

So many things we leave behind without even realizing that it is happening until something ignites a spark within us.  Old memories float to the surface, those sweet moments from our youth, and we then find ourselves once again in the process of just being.

Reflections: One Year In

This past year has been exciting for me. It’s been a year of many firsts; first novel, first book launch, first book signings, and(most importantly) first grandchild.

Tomorrow it will be exactly a year since my daughter set up this site for me. My intentions were to have a place where people could come find me once Bitter, Sweet was published should they be interested in learning a bit more about me as a writer.

I have heard from quite a few people after the publication of my book, and it’s been so nice to hear that my little book has somehow touched their hearts. In this respect, I consider that my site has certainly lived up to my expectations.

I never expected to be writing regular posts. Other than what might be happening in regards to my upcoming book I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about, certainly nothing that anyone would care to read.

I don’t kid myself into believing that I’m a blogger by any means. I know some of you are probably thinking that sounds a bit silly. Yes, I write blog posts, and I do have a blog, so technically…..

But, when I visit other blogs and read their posts, I find myself thinking— now they really know what blogging is all about. The posts are informative, not to mention entertaining, and so, so inviting to read. I visit them whenever possible. But to be honest it is all very time consuming.

Most of you who read my blog are not bloggers, and likely don’t read other blogs on a regular basis. You are my friends and family, and I SO appreciate you dropping in to read what’s on my mind. Thank you for leaving comments from time to time to let me know you’re out there. When my book came out you were right there to offer support. Many of you helped out the day of my book launch. I will forever be grateful for you support, and will never take you kindness for granted. You have been MY cheering section! Give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

I’ve met some really wonderful bloggers during this last year as well. Most of you are listed on the sidebar to the left. If you’re not it’s just because I haven’t got around to adding you. You’ve all been supportive and friendly, you’ve made me laugh, you took the time to leave comments, you’ve made me feel welcome. And I thank you!

To be truthful, I’m not very affluent when it comes to the workings of this site. Many times, in the past, I depended upon my daughter to lend a helping hand. (Thanks Mel!) But I’m slowly learning the ropes. I’m figuring things out as I go. I don’t have to bug my daughter so often.

So now, with one year into this, I find myself asking many questions and wondering in what direction this site is heading. I still haven’t figured that one out. I don’t offer writing advice. I’ve never taken a writing course, and I can’t imagine what writing advice I’d have to offer someone other than to write as often as you can and stay persistent. Don’t let rejection stand in the way of finding publication for your work. If your writing is good, someone somewhere will see it and recognize it for the gem that it is. If it’s not good enough it will get better, guaranteed.

Somedays I wake up and think I’ll never write another post again, other times I can hardly wait to hit “publish.” I’m starting to realize that this blog is just as much for me as it is for those who come to visit. It’s been a lot of fun!

Often I find myself struggling to figure out just where my own writing is headed, and for that reason I don’t feel anywhere near qualified to advise others. But one thing I will always, always do and that is offer encouragement to anyone who needs it. I will cheer you on. If you need a pick-me-up, I’m your person. I do firmly believe that we need a cheering section along the way; people who can genuinely share in our accomplishments and maybe even help pick us up when we’ve hit that brick wall again.

One year later, these are the thoughts that are on my mind. I can’t believe just how quickly this year has gone by.

The Mountain and The Valley

Every day an inspirational email comes into my inbox. Sometimes that little dose of positive affirmation is like a shot in the arm. I gobble it up. Sometimes it’s not such a big shot but I still look forward to reading it.

I’ll paraphrase what came the other day. It said that we shouldn’t try to recreate peak experiences but should accept them as gifts and move on. Also that we can’t stay on that high forever because it would no longer be a high, it would just be a normal everyday occurrence and would eventually end up feeling hum drum and boring.

“So, savor the peak experiences and compliment yourself upon your achieving of them, and expect more of them, and leave everything else out of the equation.”

I thought how true that sounded. Life is full of mountain peaks and valleys. It’s wonderful when we are high on the peak, licking the clouds, savouring the delicious taste. We’re full of energy and smiling at the world. Life couldn’t get much grander.

And yes, it’s true, we often want to stay on that peak forever. It’s a wonderful feeling. Why not? The peak might be higher than any you’ve ever been to before. You’re looking down at the world, waving from above, and it feels as though the whole world is cheering at you.

Of course the publication of any book would be considered a peak. You’re at the very top of the mountain. You climbed hard to get there— first the book, then the launch, the reviews, the signing, the hype. Believe me, it’s a great feeling. A truly wonderful gift.

But then, as my little email reminded me, we can’t stay on the peak forever.

How true.

Published authors always talk about what a wonderful experience publication is. I love hearing about other authors’ journeys, finding out how smooth or bumpy their path was, what obstacles they might have had to overcome, the valley they were in before publication, and of course that peak when the book was finally published. I have yet to read about the valley that comes after they’ve been high on that peak. Maybe it’s because no one wants to admit it. Maybe it’s because they think they will look ungrateful to the rest of the world. What have they got to feel down about their dream came true for God’s sake?

But I’m telling you that yes, I’ve experienced that valley. It’s that feeling of “Now what?” You’re book is out, the “hoopla” (as one author called it) is over and you still wanting to be up on that peak. The peak felt good, the wind blew through your hair, the sun touched the top of your head.  Your heart was warm. You loved the whole world. You smiled a lot.

What I’ve discovered is this, the sun can still reach you even when you’re standing down in the valley. It just has a little further to go to find you. As great as those peaks in life are, being down in the valley will help us to appreciate the mountain even more. No one ever chooses to be in the valley but it sounds to me as though we’re given little choice.

Sooner or later we’ll all enter the valley, no matter what we do in life or where we go. But you can get used to the scenery there if you take the time to look at what the valley has to offer, and stop lamenting about your time spent on that glorious mountain.

I am no longer lamenting. I’m waiting for the next gift to come along. I’m breathing in the scent of the valley flowers, admiring the trees and enjoying my walk. The sun found me!  I knew it would.

Maybe when we’re down in the valley we need to remember that it is just a valley, not a trench, and we’ll get our time on the mountain peak sooner or later.  Life goes in cycles. If it didn’t we’d be standing still, wouldn’t we? And tell me what ever got accomplished when we stood in one spot without the courage or strength to take another step?

Where are you in your present life, on the peak or in the valley? If you’d like to share, I’d like to listen.

It’s Official!

Once a year the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia invites writers to apply to the Writers’ Council. So this year I decided to apply, and earlier this week I received a letter of acceptance from The Federation.  The Federation—doesn’t that sound like something from Star Trek? But gee, I like the sound of it!

So what does it actually mean to be a member of the Writers’ Council?

First of all, in order to be in the Writers’ Council you need to be a published writer. Sounds obvious, I know. Being a council member means that I’ll have my own page on the Nova Scotia Writer’s Federation site, and I’ll be listed with all the other Nova Scotia writers. So if you check out the Federation’s site and you click on the “writers” link, my name will also be there. (Nope, its not there yet. You’ll have a wait awhile longer.) Another added bonus of being a member of the council is I can apply to be a part of Writers In The Schools program if I so wish.

So I’m officially official.

Of course now I need to write a bio and send in a photo for the site. I have to be honest, I write boring bios.  I’ve read some author bios that knock your socks off, not only because of the credits and awards, but their sheer entertainment value. We’ve all read those kind—-cleverly crafted to the point where you want to read the book because the author bio is so darn good you know the book has to be brilliant. Aside from the fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to have a YA novel published and some short stories, I’m just a very average, everyday, run of the mill person. Just me. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! But when it comes to writing a bio I really don’t know how to “jazz it up” to make it sound interesting. No socks coming off there.  But that’s okay. I’ll still have a page. No complaints about that, none whatsoever. I’ll get something pulled together, it may not be brilliant but in the end it won’t really matter. Who wants their socks knocked off anyway? Wear sandals, right?

Now while I don’t really like having my photo taken I’d like to have something other than the pic that went on the back of my book. Quite frankly you just  get tired of seeing the same old picture after awhile. I have until the end of July to submit my photo and bio to the Federation (there’s that “F” word again!) so surely I can come up with something acceptable.

So that’s it. I’m officially a writer!

Once the page gets up I’ll add a link for anyone who’s interested in taking a gander.

I expect that’s my big news for this week.

All About Change

As I mentioned in my last post we spent the weekend with my daughter, her husband and our granddaughter in New Brunswick. They are a four-hour car drive away, that’s four hours if you don’t make any stops along the way. (Three and a half hours if you’re my son-in-law.)

We made several stops; the trip seemed to go on forever. I went prepared, though, armed with a copy of Tom Sheppard’s, Historic Bridgewater, and a notepad. I’ve had Tom’s book for sometime but hadn’t got around to reading it. My to be read list is long. I sometimes get distracted. A new book comes along, one that I have to read immediately. I can’t help myself.

Okay, so I really am a history nut. There’s so much to be learned about our present and our future by turning toward the past. Whenever I read a history book I’m always reminded that history is all about change and preserving what once was. Life is about change. It has to be.

Not only did I dig into Tom’s book but I made plenty of notes during the trip for my present work in progress. (I guess I wasn’t very good company!) Ideas seemed to fly as the miles went by. I knew I couldn’t rely upon my memory to remember these things later on. I don’t often think to bring a notebook along with me but this time I did. I seldom plot my stories out on paper, but this particular story has been dancing around in background for some time, flaring up every now and again to let me know it’s time will one day come. I haven’t given up on it. It just hasn’t been quite ripe until now.

What amazed me about the weekend was realizing how our granddaughter has grown. The changes had happened slowly over the days and weeks, but for us it seemed so sudden. Then comes the nagging reminder of all those little moments we are missing out on. It had been seven weeks since we last saw her. So many changes have taken place. Babies are like that. Just try and stop them!

But I do not dare spend my time dwelling about all the things we are missing out on or all those little changes that we aren’t there to see.  I am choosing to enjoy each precious moment as it comes along.

The weekend was great and we had a terrific time, and although Miss Charlotte won’t see us as often as we might like those precious bonds are still being formed.

And now it’s back to the real world, back to daydreaming about all those little changes we won’t be there to see as they unfold, and back to a story that has suddenly decided the time is right.

Miss Charlotte Rose

I am leaving today to visit with Miss Charlotte Rose, and I can hardly wait. I haven’t seen her since April.

She has her very own blog  Miss Charlotte’s Weblog and that helps the family keep up with all the little day-to-day things that we would otherwise miss out on. Already she has made us laugh! We’ve even seen some small video clips.

The world we live in is truly remarkable!

But it’s not the same.

I want to hold her and smell her. I want to feel her arms and legs kick; feel her breathe. I want to see her smile and cry, and catch her teardrops on my fingertip. I want to tickle that tender spot beneath her chin.

I want to see her baby pouts those times when it looks as though her little world is crumbling.

Life is great!

Tree in Stone

With enough nurturing even the most unlikely things can flourish. You really have to love Mother Nature!

Lasting Impressions

In the sixth grade I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Mitchell, who taught us English and social studies. Each day, after lunch, we would hurry into Mrs. Mitchell’s classroom, anxious for her to read the next chapter in the latest book she had introduced to the class.

No one could read the way Mrs. Mitchell could. If a book was set in the south, she spoke the dialogue with the appropriate accent. It was marvellously entertaining, and brought the characters to life in a way that I could never have dreamed possible. In fact, each year, the grade six students looked forward to reading time with Mrs. Mitchell. Some, I’m sure, were just happy to get a break from regular schoolwork, but the rest of us sat on the edge of our seats waiting to see what the next chapter would bring.

It was in the sixth grade that I learned the impact that books like To Kill A Mockingbird could have on young lives. I remember Mrs. Mitchell explaining to us about racism before she ever began reading the book. Back then, in the sixth grade, even the title, To Kill A Mockingbird, left an impression of me. If the word kill was mentioned in the title, I knew it had to be serious.

Mrs. Mitchell was a wise, compassionate woman who helped to encourage and nurture our creativity. Looking back, I’d have to say that she was one teacher who left a lasting impression on me and, I’m sure that is the way many of her students felt. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind!

No matter who we are or what we do we leave our mark upon the world. It doesn’t have to be a huge big mark, and most often it won’t, but it’s a mark nonetheless. We impact each other’s lives in ways we may never know. I remember an incident a few months ago when a casual acquaintance approached me in the mall and thanked me for writing my book. It goes without saying that it was a very humbling experience for me. I couldn’t imagine that my words could have such an affect on anyone.

Now I know my book will never that the impact that Harper Lee’s book did. Of course not. I don’t expect it to. Still each one of us will leave our small mark on the world, something that will be remembered down the road, something that will help add meaning to someone else’s life. It is only natural that we will. It is part of the reason we are here in the first place.

Have you ever thought about what you would like to be remembered for after you are no longer walking the planet? How about right now, what impact do you hope you are making on others right at this very moment in time?

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